REVIEW: ‘War Tech Fighters’ has Heavy Metal Action and Anime Aesthetics (Switch)

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Fewer things are more amazing than giant robots. Whether it’s the Hulk Buster armor of Iron Man or the EVA units from Neon Genesis Evangelion or the classic Gundam of Mobile Suit Gundam and Jaegers of Pacific Rim, nothing instills more feeling of awesome and powerful than giant robots. It’s been quite some time since we had a video game specifically follow mechs. That said, War Tech Fighters from Blowfish Studios and Drakkar Dev (for console ports) seeks to fill a void missing since the days of Armored Core and give players a full and complete space mech experience.

Complete with customizable options, an entire galaxy to explore, and a war to fight with hundreds of enemies, it’s a bold ambition, and it’s is one that thankfully pays off mostly well, even if there are a few chinks in the armor. In War Tech Fighters, it is the future, and mankind has expanded to the furthest reaches of space, but the drums of war beat hard once again.

The most cutting edge weapon on the front line is the War Tech, a highly advanced weapons system that has been integrated into a combat mech. War Tech units are capable of flying in space, engaging small fighters, gunships, and large enemy vessels. The War Tech is incredibly customizable, with the player able to manipulate and customize various parts and weapons. As the war intensifies, players are drawn into the conflict to fight and wage war.

In the very beginning of War Tech Fighters, players are brought into a quick battle and introduced to the combat systems of the game. Players are able to control their mech freely, including the ability to ascend and descend in space. There is a wide range of movement, though War Tech Fighters is not truly made in 360 degrees. In this beginning mission, players will learn how offensive and defensive capabilities work, you have access to two primary weapon systems: Light attack and heavy attack.

Light attack, such as a vulcan, can quickly apply light, but continuous damage to an enemy unit. The heavy attack, such as a heavy cannon, can pierce targets and cause great damage but takes longer to reload. An additional weapons system is also attached, shoulder missiles. These missiles can be used to attack all targets within range or focus specifically on a single target.  This mode can be alternated using the right D-pad and using this system wisely can be the key to victory. When in combat, players can use a shield for protection, especially when flanked and facing overwhelming odds.

Finally, players have the ability to execute their targets. If an enemy unit sustains enough damage, pressing the square button will initiate an execution. These cinematic moments of destruction are quite spectacular, giving players a quick moment to observe the devastating might of their War Tech. The finishing animations are depending on which unit you fight. War Tech Fighters already provides a fun and exciting gameplay system, but that is only half of the gameplay presented in the game. In War Tech Fighters, players will face other War Techs, and just like the classic space anime of the ’80s and ’90s, players will engage in heavy metal close-quarters combat.

When players are close enough to another War Tech, players may engage in a special combatant mode. In this mode, the game switches into a fighting game, where players will need to dodge, punch, swipe, and ultimately defeat the opposing war tech. In this mode, with the sharp visuals and clearly anime-inspired soundtrack roaring, this is where War Tech Fighters really opens up into an epic cosmic fight.

Fighting isn’t easy, and the right timing and defense is necessary to win. If players succeed, they’ll be treated to a satisfying conclusion of their fight. Other gameplay mechanics include destroying asteroids for raw materials, ordering wingmen to attack, searching for hidden weapon parts, and scanning vessels for information.

Following this first mission, players are then treated to their base of operations, which include a hanger to fully customize their War Tech, the War Room to initiate missions, and a simulator to revisit missions and challenges, as well as to get a better handle on the game mechanics. Players are given a choice of one of three classes of War Tech: Rhino, Hawk, and Lynx. Rhino is the slowest, but the toughest, with thick armor and heavy weapons. Hawk class is light on weapons and armor, but incredibly nimble. The Lynx class strikes the attributes of slow and quick down the middle.

I chose the Rhino class, as I prefer to play as a tank, and the War Tech reminded me of the Gundam Heavy Arms from Gundam Wing. Players can customize their War Tech, from paint to weapon systems. Collecting bonus weapons, which are hidden in various missions, will allow for better weapons and armor. Research special technology, such as lasers, will lead to more deadly weapons. Revisiting missions in the simulator will rant more experience and currency as well. When players are ready, they may select a mission and launch.

When everything comes together, the gameplay for War Tech Fighters is fantastic, especially for fans of mecha anime. The anime-inspired guitar riffs echo in the background, while players navigate dangerous interstellar battlefields, filled with enemies, environmental obstacles,  and volleys of enemy fire. Lasers and missiles fly across the screen and battleships are downed in flames.

Space stations explode in atomic light and a duel to the death with another War Tech amongst the stars are amongst some of the best moments of War Tech Fighters. The action is sharp and impactful and the interstellar battlefields, are plentiful, from the orbits of stars to the high atmosphere of various planets. It’s a distinct and different space-based action experience and one that will be a refreshing sight to see for those that miss the days of space and mech-based games. I found myself greatly enjoying the experience throughout the game’s lengthy campaign, being reminded of classic anime.

War Tech Fighters is a solid effort, though it is hampered by a few flaws. The game works and runs fine, and I did not run into any glitches or abnormalities. However, the game could have had a higher, more consistent framerate on consoles. Once again, it must be reiterated the game ran at 30 frames per second, and remained stable, though it slightly slowed down during periods of high action. Additionally, the game features cutscenes and some voice work, but no kind of radio chatter or voice work done mid-mission.

During a level, the action will pause and a small text window with a character will appear, to carry along the events of the game. It feels jarring, as I can be straight in the thick of the action, and suddenly, the game halts for a character to send a message. I cannot help but feel that should there have been more voicework done for the levels to further compound the battlefield and combat sensations.

Finally, War Tech Fighters features the same cinematic animations when dispatching enemies, or destroying battleships, The animations can get repetitive fairly quickly, and different executions of enemies would have been appreciated. War Tech Fighters may have a few loose nuts and bolts, but the overall game is more than solid. It is fast, furious and full of heavy-metal action. It’s gameplay mechanics are strong and exciting to play through. The unique battlefields are intriguing and while there is a lack of voice acting, the presentation is strong.

It’s clear that War Tech Fighters was inspired by epic space battles in Saturday morning anime, and the team takes its resources and runs with that inspiration.  Seeing that is satisfying and I look forward to what comes next. Strap in and fire up your weapons systems, because a galaxy needs to be saved.

War Tech Fighters
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL; DR

War Tech Fighters features the same cinematic animations when dispatching enemies, or destroying battleships, The animations can get repetitive fairly quickly, and different executions of enemies would have been appreciated. War Tech Fighters may have a few loose nuts and bolts, but the overall game is more than solid.